HIERARCHY OF VICTIMS EXPOSED
The appointment of a trustee for the former RUC police as the
North's new Victims' Commissioner has been met with dismay by
It is understood the British government will today confirm
Bertha McDougall's appointment to the key role working on behalf
of victims of the conflict.
Mrs McDougall's husband Lindsay was killed in an ambush by the
Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Belfast city centre in
The appointment of Mrs McDougall, who is a trustee of the RUC
George Cross Foundation, was clearly a political appointment
made to appease unionists.
Pressure is growing for the appointment of a second commissioner
in a bid to ensure the interests of all victims of violence are
Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice said the needs of all
victims had to be addressed.
"The appointment will isolate victims of state and state-
sponsored violence. Her appointment is not independent and it
will be seen in the context of the overtures being made to the
DUP as part of a wider political settlement.
"In terms of building confidence, we would call for the role of
Victims' Commissioner to be filled by two appointees from across
the community, thereby assisting in building trust and
addressing the needs of all victims. We also call for
legislative powers which work in the interest of all victims."
The Victims' Commissioner currently has no powers to probe truth
and justice issues relating to state-linked murders. Sinn Fein's
victims' spokesperson Philip McGuigan says he will request a
meeting with the new commissioner.
"Sinn Fein have concerns about this appointment. It is obvious
this appointment is a political sop to the DUP and the issue of
victims is much too important to be treated with political
expediency," he said.
"I would imagine the unionist community would be concerned if
the Victims' Commissioner came from the republican community. We
can't allow a hierarchy of victims.
"A champion of victims' rights needs to be able to convey
independence and there have been a lot of victims created at the
hands of British state forces, including the RUC. It's easy to
understand the concerns within the nationalist and republican
community about this appointment.
"I intend to ask for a meeting with Mrs McDougall as soon as
that can be arranged."